Health

Google donates $1M to help fight Zika virus spread

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Google is donating $1 million to fight the spread of the Zika virus and offering engineers and data scientists help to determine where it will hit next.

Zika has become an epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean since last fall. The virus is mainly spread through mosquito bites and has been potentially linked to birth defects.

Google said in a blog post that it is in a good position to assist since its mission is to help people find information, and it has experience analyzing large sets of data. The company has seen a more than 3,000 percent increase in global search interest in Zika since November.

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Google operates a group of businesses, including a dominant Internet search engine, under the holding company Alphabet Inc. Google brought in an operating profit of $6.8 billion in last year’s fourth quarter.

The Mountain View, California, company’s grant will go to UNICEF and be used to help reduce mosquito populations and support the development of diagnostics and vaccines as well as work to prevent virus transmission.

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Google’s engineers are helping to build a platform to process data on things like weather and travel patterns to predict potential outbreaks. The company said the platform will be used to help government officials and others to decide where to focus their resources.